Friday, August 7, 2009

A Random Business Plan To Sell Very Exclusive Perfume

How many times have you seen it happen. A struggling creator of handbags, dresses, jewelry, makeup ... or even PERFUME scores one celebrity client who brings in a few celebrity friends and soon it's all over the news (and the promotions for the lucky creative) and now THE PUBLIC, who have never shown the least interest in this person before, JUST HAVE TO HAVE the handbag, dress, jewelry, makeup .. or PERFUME that this person has created.

The money rolls in, the celebrities move on. The fame and fortune may or may not stick but either way, the creator rushes to make the creation as non-exclusive as possible. Perhaps there's even a deal with QVC.

But suppose the PERFUME (this is a blog about perfume after all) was -- and remained -- exclusive.

The business plan I am proposing here may sound a bit far fetched. And certainly I don't claim it to be "well thought out." But I offer it freely and, who knows? Perhaps the right person can find the right "adjustments" to make it a reality and thereby make money for themselves. You are welcome to try. Now here's the plan.

You start out struggling to sell the perfume you create. Nobody knows you. Nobody cares. But you manage to sell a bottle or two here and there, and you're crazy enough to keep at it, even though all your friends are putting big dollars into their retirement plans and you're still struggling to make your minimum monthly payments to MasterCard. Yes, you LOVE creating perfume!

Then one day somebody walks into your (perfume business) life who really LIKES one of the fragrances you've made. And this person is rich and famous. And, again, this person REALLY LIKES your perfume.

But this person DOES NOT want to be wearing the same fragrance thousands of other women are wearing. IF another woman is wearing this fragrance -- YOUR fragrance -- it had better be someone rich and famous. For all the lovely praise this new client is giving your perfume, she clues you that, if she is to continue to wear it, the fragrance MUST remain exclusive.

Up to this point your fragrance was "exclusive" only in the sense that you hardly had any customers. But now, thanks to the custom of this rich and famous person, you have an incredible opportunity to promote it from here to Walmart. But to do so will destroy any hope you might have had of selling to more who are rich and famous. What should you do?

Here, at long last, is my idea. Make your fragrance exclusive by limiting the number of people you sell it to. Say 100, tops.

Make it like a country club. Limited memberships. For one to be admitted, someone else must die or resign. Person 101 has to wait until one of your original one hundred no longer uses the fragrance.

Now clearly the mechanics of this proposal are not simple. How do you select the lucky one hundred? How to you deal with them? Clearly a commitment to buy more than a bottle or two of your fragrance will be required. I am NOT contemplating a situation where each bottle is so extravagantly priced that a single bottle yields great profit. But there needs to be some sort of "fee" system for membership in this elite group.

One possible way to do this would be to have two lines -- the exclusive line where only a limited number of people are allowed to purchase a particular perfume -- and another less exclusive line of fragrances that, while not cheap, were available to anyone with the money.

Think back to Studio 54 days in New York City. ANYONE could wait in line outside the club and hope to get in. But to get in, you had to be SELECTED. Many were not.

I recall that Picasso regularly withheld his works from sale in order to maintain the exclusivity of those he allowed his dealer to sell. He was a prolific creator and would have flooded the market had he allowed all of his works to be sold.

Selling "by appointment only" may be going a bit far for most of us (I hate making appointments) but the idea is certainly worthy of consideration.

But I think that my "100 Club" idea has some genuine potential in the right hands. Personally I have yet to develop a celebrity following so I still have time to think it over.

Meanwhile I'll continue to create perfume.

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